EPISODE 473 DAISY AND THE TREADMILL
De. 2, 2021
Daisy was one of the greatest animals we ever had. When she died people cried all over Canada. One man even
sent a note saying he had to pull over on The Trans Canada Highway because of his tears. Not many dogs get
national attention like she did. You wonder how that happened. right? Well the story is a bit on the long side but
DAISY…THE DOG WHO LOVED THE TREADMILL
The idea of having a dog running a treadmill never occurred to me. I bought the treadmill as an artefact.
As I cleaned and repaired it, our Labrador dog Daisy kept hanging around. Nosing around. So I started
a conversation with her.
“Daisy, did you know that dogs life you once ran this treadmill?”
(Swear she knew what i was saying.}
“A dog would be led up the back while the brake was on…the treadmill would be hooked to
a fanning mill or some other farm implement.”
(Daisy looked deep into my eyes…and listened.)
“Do you want to give it a try, Daisy?”
(I swear she nodded…stood at the back of the treadmill.)
“Hop on, then.”
(And she did. Honestly, that was all the training she had. Zero…)
“Holy Samoley, Daisy, have you done this before?”
(She looked at me almost saying in the silence…”How could I , you got me as a little pup.”)
“Let’s see what happens when I take off the brake after hooking the handle of a fanning mill to the treadmill…
just give a minute or two. There,all hooked up. Are you ready?
(Daisy wagged her tail….I know you won’t believe that but she did.)
(And I released the brake…the treads began to turn as Daisy set her paws up and down.
And everything worked …the fanning mill was ready to clean grain using dog power…the
old machine rattled and the graim sifter shook. And Daisy wagged her tail looking
right into my eyes. Who will believe me?)
Daisy as a little pup.
Daisy on the dog treadmill…all ready to go.
See Daisy sitting on the ground at Sherwood Hume’s Family Farm Festival years ago.
The treadmill is hooked to a small fanning mill. All that Daisy needed was an
audience…perhaps some applause.
THEN I MADE A BIG MISTAKE…WISH I HAD BEHAVED BETTER
(“A fine example of a dog owner”…I say that sarcastically)
We did many shows with Daisy but the best and the worst was at the Hume
farm. You have already read the best Now for the worst. You will not think
well of me after reading but you will still admire Daisy. Here goes…
We had a big crowd around Daisy as the treadmill revolved and the grain screens
shook. Admirers all. Even, I suppose, the woman with the grim face admired
Daisy. But she sure did not like me.
“How could you treat a dog like that? It’s brutal.”
“Never thought of that.”
“How long will she have to do that? Abuse!”
“I let her work until she drops…” (Wish I had not said that…but the words just blurted out.”
“You abuse her like that until she drops….”
“Yep. And when that happens I go to the dog catcher or Humane Society and get another dog.”
“Well….we’ll see about that. I’m going to get the police.”
And away she went.
Daisy was still turning the machine. Her tail was still wagging. Strange that the
woman did not notice. The crowd hooted….applauded either the well intentioned woman
or my smart assed comment. It did not really matter. This was showmanship at its
Did the police come? No. We had a group of volunteers, mostly women, who blocked
the front of the farm that day lest we had unwanted visitors. Some men were drinking
beer which posed a far more serious situation than Daisy’s work on the treadmill. We did
not have a liquor licence which would have led to big time trouble. We wished the beer
drinkers knew that. They were like me…well intentioned but stupid.
THE DAY DAISY DIED
AT the time we had Daisy I was a small time journalist and broadcaster on CBC radio.
Not big time. My radio slot was around 5 to 10 minutes. Usually my stories were received
locally in Southern Ontario. But sometimes they went out to a wider Canadian audience.
“Would a story about our dog Daisy be OK this week?”
“She died this week. Dog lovers know how that hurts.”
So I wrote a radio script about Daisy. It’s still around our house somewhere
as is a tape of the broadcast. I tied Daisy to our daily life. “Daisy was more like
a person than a dog. Marjorie’s farm relative would have said ’she were the knowingest
dog that ever there was. (musical words She loved us. She was there as the boys
grew up. And we loved her back…took her wherever we went. She knew as many swimming
holes in Ontario as we did. One year we parked Daisy and her big pup Sidney on an island
in Lake of the Woods while we took a canoe bound for another island a few miles distant where
there were blueberries and maybe a bear or two. We were way out in the open water when one
the boys looked behind us. Spotted two black dots in the Water.
“Mom, look back there…I think Daisy and Sidney are following us/“
So we turned around and got both Daisy and Sidney into the canoe. With
difficulty. I say this so you would understand just how close Daisy was
to our family. She did not want to stay behind.
Daisy died yesterday. We will miss her.
My story was much longer. While telling the story I noticed the studio was
empty. Usually my producer or radio host or technician were present. Not that day.
I was all alone. Where were they? Crying in the sound booth behind my back.
I was crying as well. My voice broke a couple of times. Tears do not come easily
for me but they sure did the day that Daisy died.
I often think of Daisy. And the image of that radio listener on the Trans Canada Highway
comes to mind as he slipped to the gravel shoulder to wipe his tears. Any person who cannot
love a dog seems slightly less than human. I mean a dog like Daisy.